AUSTIN, TX — Sandra England, the Director of the Broadcast Department of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), announced her retirement today. A replacement director has not yet been announced.
England started her IATSE career working under a Local 12 contract during the first season of BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio. She joined Local 611 in Santa Cruz, CA, as a set lighting tech, and eventually became the Business Agent. As BA, she worked diligently to organize local productions, especially Movies-of-the-Week and other often-ignored productions.
In 1990, she told then-International President Al di Tolla that she would join the International staff for six months to replace an organizer in the West Coast Office. She dove into the organizing work, helping set up studio mechanic locals in Arizona, Texas, and the Pacific Northwest. When the Organizing Department was created in 1998, England was appointed co-Director. Her organizing work focused largely on LORT theaters.
When freelance live sports broadcast technicians approached her about organizing a unit in Washington State, England was excited for the opportunity. While many believed it would be impossible to organize freelancers, England knew that the IATSE’s history of organizing stagehands and other entertainment workers made the union a natural home for these workers. She was right, and the IATSE organized that group, as well as broadcast locals in Arizona, Texas and several other states.
In 2012, when the IATSE’s Department structure was revised, England was named Director of the new Broadcast Department. Since then, she has expanded the IATSE’s presence in sports and live entertainment broadcast work, including last year’s successful organizing strike against the Golf Channel.
“Sandy is a tenacious organizer, and her influence has helped the IATSE grow and build new strength in live television broadcast,” International President Matthew D. Loeb said. “She has earned health and retirement benefits, plus millions of extra dollars, for thousands of freelance technicians. We’ll miss her influence and her foresight.”
“At heart, I’m just an organizer,” England said. “It’s been almost 30 years since I signed on for six months. We’ve brought new crafts into the Alliance, and set up the Broadcast Department well for the future. I’m thankful for the opportunity to improve people’s lives through organizing.
“Just remember, there’s only one thing.”